OFC Men’s Champions League 2016

Auckland City celebrate winning the 2016 Champions League. OFC Champions League 2016 Final, Auckland City FC v Team Wellington, QBE Stadium, Auckland, Saturday 23rd April 2016. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / www.phototek.nz

The 15th edition of the OFC Champions League took place in 2016 and all games were held at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. The format remained the same with three groups of four, and the top team in each group progressing to the semi-finals alongside the best second-placed side. Hosts and five-time defending champions Auckland City FC were drawn alongside Amicale FC, Lae City FC, and the Solomon Warriors in Group A, whilst 2015 runners-up Team Wellington were joined by Hekari United FC, Suva FC, and AS Lossi in Group B, and AS Magenta, AS Tefana, Nadi FC, and Kiwi FC were grouped together in Group C.

Looking for a sixth-straight OFC Champions League title, Auckland City FC kicked off the tournament in Group A with a dominant 4-0 victory over the Solomon Warriors, before going on to win their remaining two group fixtures including a 3-1 win over Amicale FC in a replay of the 2011 and 2014 finals. They topped the group and qualified for the semi-finals, whilst Amicale beat both the Solomon Warriors and Lae City FC but didn’t progress as one of the best second-placed teams. Both Team Wellington and Hekari United FC won their first two fixtures in Group B, ensuring top spot in the group would be decided when they met on the final day of play.

Two first half goals from Bill Robertson set Team Wellington on their way, as they beat Hekari United 4-0 to secure their place in the semi-finals with maximum points. Hekari United finished second with six points, but it wasn’t enough to progress as one of the best second-placed teams. With victories over Nadi FC and Kiwi FC, AS Magenta and AS Tefana were the teams to beat in Group C. Their clash on matchday two also proved the decisive fixture in the group, as a hat-trick from Georges Bearune helped AS Magenta secure top spot with a 4-2 win over AS Tefana. After recording big 6-1 and 7-0 wins over Nadi and Kiwi though, AS Tefana joined them in the semi-finals as the best second-placed club.

Two first half goals each from Micah Lea’alafa and Clayton Lewis sent Auckland City FC on their way, who despite conceding twice, held on for a 4-2 victory over AS Tefana in the first semi-final. Team Wellington made it an all-New Zealand final for the second year running as they joined Auckland City with a 2-0 win over AS Magenta in the second semi-final, helped by a second half double from Tom Jackson. In a replay of the 2015 final, Auckland City FC claimed their sixth successive and eighth OFC Champions League title with a 3-0 victory over Team Wellington. Micah Lea’alafa scored twice, whilst Clayton Lewis joined in with one of his own again in the final at North Harbour Stadium, as Auckland City continued their dominance of the competition.

Lea’alafa received the golden ball for the best player of the tournament, whilst his teammate Joao Morreira won the golden boot with five goals. Team Wellington’s Scott Basalaj was awarded the golden glove, and Hekari United FC received the fair play award.

Auckland City went on to make a record-extending eighth appearance at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, but despite opening the scoring through Kim Dae-Wook, fell to a 1-2 defeat to Kashima Antlers in the first round.